Will my spouse get anything from Social Security if I die?

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Q. I am on Social Security but my husband does not qualify yet. If I die, will he receive any monthly survivor benefit money?
— Planning

A. There are several benefits for you to consider.

As a married couple, your husband would be entitled to survivor benefits if you were to predecease him.

Upon your death, Social Security makes a $255 one-time payment to a surviving spouse, said Nicholas Scheibner, a certified financial planner with Baron Financial Group in Fair Lawn.

The monthly survivor benefits your husband would receive would depend on his age at the time he decided to apply for them, he said.

“A widow or widower may begin survivor benefits as early as 60 years old,” Scheibner said. “If he decided to apply for benefits before his full retirement age, he could see a reduction in monthly benefits.”

It is important to note that a person cannot receive both their own retirement benefits and survivor benefits at the same time. It’s an either-or situation, he said.

Should you die, your husband will need to determine which option is best for him and his future finances.

“He could even choose to start his one benefit and delay the other,” Scheibner said. “Typically, this works by receiving a lower benefit now while allowing a larger benefit to grow. This would allow him to get income now while increasing a future benefit.”

For example, he could choose to collect the survivor benefits for a period of time and potentially delay his own retirement benefits if his own benefits are higher and he can afford the temporary reduction in monthly payments, he said.

Conversely, he could delay the survivor benefits if they are higher than his own retirement benefits and collect his own benefits for a period of time, Scheibner said.

You should contact Social Security directly so the agency can review your records and give you an idea of what kind of benefit options to expect.

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This story was originally published on Jan. 8, 2021.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.